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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

All Wet

It might not look like it, but I've been visiting a gym two or three times a week since November of 2012.  It's nothing extensive-- just a little calorie burn and a lot of sweating.

Something happened last week for the first time in seven years.  I forgot to bring a towel for the post workout shower.

There were two options-- take a shower at home, or make the best of it at the gym.

It was one of those broilingly hot mornings, and the humidity was 300 per cent.  The gym has air conditions and ceiling fans.  It wasn't enough.  I was dripping.  I love those showers.

Yes, I patted off what I could with paper towels.  My street clothes took care of some of the rest.  I dried off, eventually.  Every window in the car, plus the sun roof, was open.

It must have been one of those.  I also left my phone at home.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Fore!

Let's establish a few things off the top.  I have nothing more than a passing interest in golf, and I haven't picked up a club since college.  The folks like it, so I'll watch some TV coverage with them when I get the chance.

Something happened Thursday that blew me away.

British Open in Northern Ireland.  Rory McIlroy, and Irish kid, had an absolutely horrible round, finishing 8 over par.  It was a disaster from the first swing to the last, and in front of his home country fans.  Embarrassing, to say the least.

When McIlroy's round ended, he stopped to talk, live, with a reporter from The Golf Channel.  Most of us, myself included, would have uttered a three word phrase and walked away.  McIlroy didn't.

We are so used to seeing athletes at their worst.

This guy is a class act.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Hot!

It's hot.  Very hot.

Yes, it's dangerous and a nuisance, and darned uncomfortable.

Let's not panic.  We can use a little common sense and we can get through this.

It's been hot before.

My old friend, David DeCosmo, brought up something on his blog, what I call a "geezer" moment.  He didn't have air conditioning as a kid.  Neither did I.  We survived.  Don't ask me how.

All we had to look forward to was that first cool night.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

One Small Step

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing.  It was one of my first "where were you when" moments.

I think the first was the RFK assassination in 1968.  It was a ritual in my house growing up:  "CBS Morning News" at 7.  "Captain Kangaroo" at 8.

I remember watching the black and white images of a wounded Kennedy on a Los Angeles hotel kitchen floor, but I remember the moment more from my parents reaction.  Sad.  Horrified.

The Apollo 11 landing was a much different story.  Awe.  You might find this hard to believe, but I was a geeky kid.  I was "in" to books, and listening to the radio, and watching television.  The
Apollo 11 mission was a week of unmitigated joy.

The Apollo glory moments were late at night and early in the morning.  I remember my parents allowing me to stay up late, watching the landing and moon walk sprawled out on the foot of their bed, viewing Armstrong, Aldren, and Cronkite on a black and white portable TV.  It was always Cronkite.  I can still see that TV.  It was big for a portable.  General Electric.  Blue case.  Antenna on top.

I don't remember how long I was able to keep my eyes open, but those awake moments were unforgettable.

Man's greatest adventure.  A kid's memory of sharing a special moment and history with the family.

Friday, July 19, 2019

I Still Don't Get It

I use the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport interchange all the time.  This week, I had my first experience with the new South Valley Parkway in the Nanticoke area.  Both feature roundabouts, and for the life of me, I can't figure out PennDot's fascination with these things.

Drivers don't like them.  They're confusing.  They take up a lot of space.  I see nothing wrong with a nice, clean intersection with a well timed and smart traffic light.  PennDot says the roundabouts are safer and they claim to have the statistics to back them up.

It seems to me the goal is to establish roads and intersections that make drivers feel comfortable and secure.  A roundabout is counter to that way of thinking.

In a stunning display of common sense, PennDot just announced it is abandoning plans for a roundabout along Route 118 in Luzerne County. 

Regardless, we're stuck with them and we have to get used to roundabouts being part of our lives.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Blackout

We saw it again Saturday night, and it's a subject I've prattled on about before-- the fragility of the American infrastructure.  In this case, it was the power grid.  One transmission line, at one substation fails, and a huge chunk of New York city falls in to darkness.  It took about six hours to fix the problem.

New York's governor was right when he said things like this shouldn't happen.

I'm surprised it doesn't happen more often.

The system is old.  It can be easily overwhelmed.  It can become unreliable.  A book written by Ted Koppel showed the American grid is prone to infiltration by unfriendlies.

A fix will cost trillions and no one wants a power generating station next door, and massive lines running overhead.

We will just have to learn to live with the danger.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Games and Greats

The recent passing of Arte Johnson started me thinking about a game show Johnson hosted on NBC for about nine months in 1977 and 1978.  It was completely forgettable.  To boil "Knockout" down to its essence, contestants were shown four items, and they had to guess which one didn't belong and why.  The show was nothing special.  It didn't last long, and I didn't think Johnson was very good.

It seemed like some of the essential elements were there.  Unfortunately, the show never gelled and and audience never took to it.  I wonder if Johnson would have been a better host if he had a better vehicle.

The same goes for another "Laugh In" alumnus, Dick Martin.  He hosted "Mindreaders" on NBC for 22 weeks in 1979 and 1980.  Martin was a funny guy.  Unfortunately, "Mindreaders" was a dog.  Contestants had to guess the way a celebrity would answer a personal question.  Again, Martin wasn't very good.  I think he would have been better if he had a better game on his hands.

Bottom line:  it's tough for a good host to save a bad show.

Peter Marshall of "Hollywood Squares" fame was asked for a few words after game show legend Bill Cullen died in 1990.  Marshall said Cullen's warmth, charm, and talent kept games on the air long after they should have been cancelled.   There is no higher compliment.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The Park

Luzerne County manager David Pedri wants to see more people use Riverfront Park, along the Susquehanna River in Wilkes-Barre.  That's admirable.  It's in a beautiful location and you paid $ 20 million for it.

The park held a concert Friday night.  Above is a screen grab from a Newswatch 16 story.

Good crowd.  Not a great crowd.

While the aesthetics are great, the park has some things working against it. 

There is no close and easy parking.

You have to cross that speedway known as North River Street to get there.

Wilkes-Barre has a perceived crime problem.

I don't know what you can do about the parking.  You can't establish a big lot for only a handful of events a year.

You can do better traffic control on North River Street.

You can increase police presence before and after Riverfront park events.

All in all, this area has a lot going for it.  It should work.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Jim Bouton

Jim Bouton died last week.  80.  He had a couple of great years with the New York Yankees in the early 60's.

Jim Bouton is best known for writing an inside baseball book called "Ball Four."  I read it.  I loved it.

On the other hand...

I don't know if they still do, but baseball clubhouses had a sign, which read "What you see here, what you hear here, what you say here, STAYS HERE."

Jim Bouton betrayed a trust.    Yes, it was just tales of drinking and carousing.  Worse things have been said and done, written about, gossiped about...

"Ball Four" was written and published a very long time ago.  Time passes.  Sins forgiven.

It's still a tough one.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Andy's Angles: The Base

The Scranton Nay Aug Park tree house was closed for months because it was attached to rotting trees.  Steel now holds it up, and I hope it's around for a very long time.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

About the Cover: Treehouse

The City of Scranton needs help in several areas, and there are plenty of projects worthy of attention.

I guess there are higher priorities than a tree house at Nay Aug Park, but I'm glad they came up with the money to fix it.  Everybody loves it.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Weary

I'm really tired.

I know politics is a huge part of the news.  Even people like me, who are news junkies and are fascinated by the process, think the presidential election campaign is too soon, too much, too fast.

The focus of today's entry is the infiltration into weather and sports.  Everything goes through the filter.

Is there any escape?  Is there any aspect of American life where we can just relax, have fun, and forget about taking sides?


Thursday, July 11, 2019

Why?

Veterans with sensitivities don't like them.

Parents with young children don't like them.

Early risers don't like them.

Pet owners don't like them.

The elderly don't like them.

People who value quiet neighborhoods don't like them.

Medical personnel and hospital emergency room workers don't like them.

Firefighters don't like them.

Police officers don't like them.

Yet, we have roof rattling fireworks that knock you out of bed.

Why?

Follow the money.

Some state legislators say they are open to changing the law.  That's code for "Yes, we'll pretend to be concerned, and then we'll keep the law that brings in more money so we can throw it around and make it look like we're doing something."

Maybe a little boy would be alive today, and a family would still have its home.

There are plenty of fireworks displays put on by the experts, and they're spectacular.  That's enough.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Butt Out!

There are styrofoam bans, plastic bag bans, plastic straw bans, plastic utensil bans...  I understand that.  I get that.

Why isn't there more talk about cigarette butts?  They're everywhere.  They never degrade.  And, it seems like people are more prone to flicking a cigarette butt out a car window than a spork.

Smoking bans in Pennsylvania seem to have stalled.  There are bills in the legislature to get rid of all the exemptions in the weak and current law.  I don't expect them to advance.

In spite of the bans that exist, we still seem to be buried in cigarette butts.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Carded!

The sign greeted me as I walked in to one of my favorite supermarkets.  Its shoppers club will continue, but the chain is phasing out the cards and key tags.  You will now enter your phone number on a little key pad at the register.

I'll miss the little chime that sounded when the electronic reader recognized the card.  On the other hand it is more convenient.

Problem:  I signed up for the shopper's club many years ago, and I didn't remember the phone number I used.

My most recent visit was at 4 AM, and there was no one in line behind me.  I asked the polite and patient cashier if I could try the phone number thing, explaining that I've had a lot of phone numbers over the years.

First try:  nothing.

I nailed it on the second!  I was amazed.

I would anticipate every chain will be going in the plastic-less direction in the months to come.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Next?



The recent resignation of Scranton mayor Bill Courtright started me thinking about mayors I've covered since my professional career began.

Eugene Hickey was the first, a nice man, very low key.  A lot of things, bad things, happened on his watch.  Two of the biggest were the energy crisis and Scranton's population slide.  Hickey can't be blamed for the first.  He might have  been able to help with the second.  Oppenheim's closed on Hickey's watch.  Again, not his fault.  The idea for a downtown mall, with the working title of Westgate, started during Hickey's one term in city hall.

Jim McNulty was next.  Love him, or hate him, you have to admit McNulty thought big.  Who could forget McNulty's inaugural ball in the empty Oppenheim building because he wanted to show Al Boscov what that building looked like filled with people.  The mall thing received a lot of attention.  McNulty also floated the idea for a downtown arena.   Steamtown USA arrived, and failed.  We saw heavyweight boxing matches, movie filming and several other media events during McNulty's one term.  It was fun.

By the way, the Oppenheim stunt was a great idea.  Boscov passed because the building was too small, too old, and it had an old style valet parking garage.

Unfortunately, McNulty was not a traditional mayor, not a nuts and bolts guy.  That opened the door for David Wenzel.  Wenzel approached the office with his typical quiet dignity and class.  The mall did make some progress during Wenzel's single term.  Other than that, there was a general feeling the city was stagnating.  Wenzen didn't seek reelection.

Enter Jimmy Connors-- a people person if there ever was one,  Media friendly.  Approachable.  Accessible.  The mall opened and the Globe closed on Connors' watch.  The city was in major financial trouble.  Connors never raised taxes.  Perhaps, that was a mistake.  A switch back to the Democrat party didn't earn many friends.  Connors finished third in the 2001 Democratic primary.

Chris Doherty was next.  A young professional, Doherty brought a youthful enthusiasm to the office.  The financial problems remained.  Scranton voters sent him back two more times, and after that third term, Doherty declared it was time for a change.

Scranton voters chose Bill Courtright to be their next mayor.  He seemed to get a handle on the city's finances, mainly by selling off city assets.  Outside of his investigation and felonies, Courtright really wasn't much of a headline maker.  As I said last week, Courtright was there, most of the time, when you needed him.

Here is my point.  Other than McNulty, with a little bit of Connors and Doherty, Scranton hasn't had many true leaders-- cheerleaders who will get the place noticed, and in a good way.  These days, it isn't enough to balance the checkbook. You have to get people to believe in themselves and their city.

Think of that as the new mayor selection process moves along.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Andy's Angles: Mixed Feelings

I've always had mixed feelings about cell phone antennas.  We depend on wireless communications for information and safety.  On the other hand they sure are ugly, especially when bolted to the frint and sides of one of the most interesting buildings in downtown Wilkes-Barre.

I would hope the day is coming when we can make these things smaller and less obtrusive.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Andy's Angles: The Kirby

Above is an early morning photo of the FM Kirby Center for the Performing Arts on Public Square in downtown Wilkes-Barre.

Back when this was the rotting Paramount Theater, WARM did a day's worth of broadcasts here,l promoting the effort to turn the old theater in to what you see now.  I was proud we could help get the ball rolling.  During the day, I had the opportunity to wander around inside and take a good look around.  Fascinating place.  They don't build them like that any more.

I will admit to not being a fan of the modern awning and lighted zipper running across the front.  I didn't think it fit with the character of the building when it was installed, and time has not changed my opinion.  The lights do add some vitality to the square, so there is at least one positive here.

I'm glad it was saved.  Can we do the same with the Irem Temple, the rest of the Stegmaier complex,  and the Market Street train station?  Please?

Friday, July 5, 2019

Check, Please!



I've never been to Buffalo Wild Wings.  Published reports last week say the chain is getting rid of several slow selling menu items, in favor of making the remaining food better.

What a concept!

In a related story, Pizza Hut said it is going back to its classic logo, in an attempt to boost sales.  Good luck.  What about improving the food and improving service?

Buffalo Wild Wings and Pizza Hut are not alone.

I ran in to a radio friend at a supermarket last week.  This chain has a great hot section, in addition to the usual deli fare.  My friend said he decided to hit the supermarket because things were a mess at the fast food restaurant across the street and he grew weary of standing in line.

I know the restaurant business is a tough one, and fast food can be difficult.  The home office is always dropping new and complicated menu items on you, and good help is hard to find.

The business simply appears to be in a downward spiral.  Waits are too long.  Orders are bagged incorrectly.

It really shouldn't be this hard.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Independence Day

A sports talk radio host, a few years ago, called Independence Day the "holiday of bad decisions."

Unfortunately, there are plenty of drunk driving incidents, crashes, drownings, and people injured by fireworks.

Please, remember what the day is all about.  Celebrate freedom, and have fun.

But, be careful.  Please.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Sad, and Angry

Scranton mayor Bill Courtright resigned, admitted to being corrupt, and is going to jail.

According to court papers, it appears Courtright was running a criminal enterprise from the day be became mayor in 2014, shaking people down for money, political donations, work on his home and business.

You think that with all the corrupt politicians in trouble with the law in recent years, Courtright would have traveled the straight and narrow path.  He didn't.  He pays the price.  We all do.

There is even less faith in government and the political system.  A small part of me thinks this puts a black eye on Scranton, with businesses less inclined to locate and grow here.  The big part of me knows businesses move in for cheap labor, cheap utilities and cheap land.  Corruption and thievery don't make much of a difference.  If businesses based decisions on corruption, northeastern Pennsylvania would be a desert.

My dealings with Bill Courtright were always professional, cordial.  I didn't think he was an inspirational leader, but he was there when he needed to be, most of the time, and the city didn't go bankrupt on his watch.  Our last encounter was on the morning of a springtime tornado.  He appeared to care, and I believe it was genuine.

This isn't the first case of high level corruption in our area.  Sadly, it won't be the last.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

WABC

For many years, it was THE most listened to radio station in the country.  They did things first and they did them right.  Great music, great jingles, great personalities, great promotion.  Big signal.  WABC had it all.

By the late 70's, the market was becoming fragmented.  FM was becoming hot.  WABC was losing its way.  The disco experiment bombed.  It was a solid adult contemporary station for a few years before ABC threw in the towel and went talk in 1982.

ABC sold it several years ago.  A company called Cumulus sold WABC last week to a guy who made his fortune in supermarkets and real estate.  He now dabbles in radio.  $ 12.5 million.  Amazing low, but then again, WABC is at the bottom of the ratings with a line up of second rate talk shows.

The new owner promises to restore some of the luster.  I wish him luck.  No one in their right mind believes WABC will be what it was in the 60's and early 70's, but it sure can be doing better than what it is now.

Monday, July 1, 2019

July

I used to love July.  Sunny.  Hot.  Warm nights.  Long days.  A great time to be outside.

Now, I dislike July for the same reasons I loved it as a kid.

Add to the mix, noisy fireworks legalized by a state government that is looking for cash in every vice, nook and cranny.

I'm sure working overnights and early mornings has something to do with it, but I'm not complaining.  The schedule works for me.

I attempt to soften the blow by taking a day off early in the month, and a week off at the end.

August can be nearly as difficult, but you can begin to smell fall in the air.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Andy's Angles: Welcome

I really hope the Iron Horse Movie Bistro in downtown Scranton makes it.  Movie theaters add a lot of life to a downtown.

There has always been something about the design that bugs me.

The place looks dead.  Always.
For years the corner at Penn and Lackawanna has been large sheets of silver corrugated metal.  This week, they were painted black with movie theater items applied in white.

It's a nice try, but...

It's not enough.  The corner needs light, and color, and a marquee to show you what's playing inside and when.

It's an improvement.  Keep going.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Andy's Angles: Shredded First Impressions

You only get one chance at a first impression, and this beauty is right across the street from the intermodal transportation center and the entrance to Steamtown on Lackawanna Avenue in downtown Scranton.

Are there more important things than replacing or removing a shredded and torn banner?  Likely.

I just have a feeling visitors to Steamtown will look at this and feel they're entering a shabby city.

Little things can mean a lot.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Media Friday

Bob Ley is retiring after 40 years at ESPN.  He was sports without the schtick, and I miss that approach.

ABC's summer game shows are producing solid ratings, and that makes me happy, even though I still think the "Card Sharks" pacing is glacial and the game is flawed.

I know I've said this before, but I've been catching some old games on the NFL Network.  Has there ever been a team as good as Summerall and Madden?

If someone has the answer, I'd love to hear it, but ten presidential candidates on a debate stage is far too many.  There has to be a better way.

Forbes reports the retooled CBS morning show is down 21 per cent in the ratings.  Any new cast needs time to gel with the audience.

Perry Mason was an incredible attorney.

Someone has been posting clips of David Letterman's short lived morning show on YouTube.  It was funny back then.  Still funny now.

Max Wright, Willie Tanner from TV's "Alf," died this week.  75.  Great character.  Great work.  Wright was also the TV station manager in the brilliant Dabney Coleman sitcom "Buffalo Bill."

I was listening to the radio when there was that big explosion in Philadelphia.  KYW ruled, and it's everything radio should be.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Mike Wallace



A new documentary on Mike Wallace is on the way, one of the most fascinating people ever to appear on a television screen.

There was a long history before "60 Minutes" in 1968. He did commercials, game shows and a interview show before landing at CBS News.

There was a personal battle with depression and the loss of a son.

Mike Wallace anchored the "CBS Morning News" in the mid 60's and called it the longest two years of his life.

Mike Wallace helped define investigating journalism, and he threw in a little show business as well.

I'm really looking forward to seeing it.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

There's Hope

Long story short...

WEEU, AM 830 in Reading is owned by the local newspaper.  The paper filed for bankruptcy protection.  A company stepped in to buy the newspaper, but not the radio station, and there was a really strong chance that WEEU was going off the air.

That would have been tragic.  WEEU is the heritage station in the community, and if memory serves, that's where WARM legend Harry West got his start.  I hate to see communities lose a voice, and judging by its web site, WEEU did a fair amount of local programming.

There was an auction last week.  WEEU went for $88,500.  The buyer is a western Pennsylvania company that owns a handful of small town radio stations.  The new owner says there will be minimal changes.  I smiled, and I haven't been doing much of that lately.

The new company, Twilight, takes over June 30, when the newspaper sale kicks in.

WEEU, live long and prosper.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Out of Print

Electric City recently stopped publishing, and its contents were folded into a new web site.

I'll miss the print version of the arts and entertainment weekly.  Even though you can now get the same things on-line, it was nice to have on the table in front of me has I had that morning bowl of Cracklin' Oat Bran.

After it ditched a mean spirited and inaccurate gossip column the publishers should have been embarrassed to carry, Electric City became a solid read-- food, entertainment, music, movies, things to do...

I'm sorry to see it go, and I do realize things in print have an uphill battle these days.  It's an archaic way to get the message out.

Thursday morning breakfast won't be the same.

Monday, June 24, 2019

This Old House

It's tough to move on.

The mother of one of my best childhood friends died several years ago.

My friend died a few years ago.

His father recently died.

You know what happens next.

The house was sold.

It was filled with memories.  Monopoly games at the kitchen table.  Summer afternoons on the front porch.  The basement dart board.  A big friendly fluffy cat.  Slot cars and trains under the Christmas tree that were the envy of every kid in the neighborhood.

I miss those days.

Good times.  Great friendship.

I will never get used to seeing other people in that house.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Andy's Angles: Skyline

Scranton is a sprawling city, but its downtown is rather compact.  There are some lovely buildings here, but not much of a skyline.

The hospital dominates the shot.  The train station hotel is just to the left, and the Chamberlain plant is to the left of that.

Even though I've taken photos here before, it was a rare clear day, so I went for it.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Andy's Angles: Pavilion

It's the first weekend of summer, and this photo epitomizes the season.  It's one of the pavilions at Nay Aug Park in Scranton-- on a rare sunny and dry day.

I didn't crop it, so you can see the lush lawn surrounding it.  Yes, the rain has done something good for grass, as long as it gets a little sun once in a while.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Always Freeze on an 8

ABC has made a thing of doing old game show revivals during the summer, and for the most part, they've been OK.

Pyramid is true to the original, fortunately.  To Tell the Truth isn't, unfortunately.  I have yet to see Press Your Luck, but I have caught Card Sharks.

It's nice to hear the old theme, which actually started with a short lived Alex Trebek hosted show called Double Dare.

Back to Card Sharks, contestants play one game.  Ten cards rather than the old five.  The game is flawed.  There is a maximum of five survey questions.  If there is no winner by the fifth, it's sudden death-- play or pass, just like the old days.  It's hard to get all the way across the ten card board in five questions, so it all comes down to that one last question, and that's not right.

The bonus round is similar to the old one, but with a lot more money.  The display needs work.  It's tough to follow bets and accumulated money.

The audience is too noisy.  The contestants are too hyper.

The guy with the pretentious scruff, host Joel McHale isn't bad, but I don't think he brings much to the table either.

My big problem is the pacing.  It's just too darn slow. 

There were two daytime versions of Card Sharks, one from 78 to 81 and another from 86 to 89.  Jim Perry did the original with a great deal of energy, and he really moved the show along.  Bob Eubanks was a little slower and the show was filled with gimmicks.  It still wasn't bad.

The new Card Sharks really needs to pick up the pace.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

One Job

Retailers like Walmart and Target have one job:  make customers happy.

Both occasionally fall short of the mark.  Way short.

It's long been established here that I work all night and sleep all day.  There aren't many options for shopping on my schedule.  I've found it's easier on my body if I keep the same sleep arrangement, even on my days off.

It usually happens Wednesday morning at Walmart.  The cash registers shut down at 4 AM for a weekly update.  They are off line for about 15 minutes.  Granted, there aren't many people in the store at the time-- fellow night owls and insomniacs, and plenty of workers in the national gas industry, on their way to work.  We're all just standing around, staring at our phones and NOT spending money.

Saturday afternoon, the computer that controls the cash registers at Target shut down for two hours and the chain lost millions of dollars.

Walmart is the nation's largest retailer.  Target has nearly 2,000 stores.  You mean to tell me those two behemoths don't have back up systems?  It's 2019!

Keeping customers happy and spending is your job.  Get to work!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Bike Update

Thanks to a chilly and wet spring, biking season got off to a slow start this year.  I'm happy to report that I've logged a few nice trips recently.  It's really nothing out of the ordinary-- just pedaling about the small towns that surround me.

New year, same old story.  LED street lights aren't as good as the ones they replaced, even if they do save energy.  The roads are still a mess.  There is something new this year-- dirt and rocks loosened up and pushed onto the streets by all the recent rain.  People still run their clothes dryers and fire up their grills in the middle of the night.  Drivers are mostly courteous and give me plenty of room.  Visibility helps.  I always wear my reflective vest.

One thing is a little odd this year.  2018 seemed to be a banner year for stray cats, skunks, bunnies and possums.  The critter count seems to be down this year.

Look for animal updates as the summer continues.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Don

I'm terribly sorry I didn't get to this sooner...

Don Carey died June 9.  He was 75.

Don was a Times~Leader photographer for many years, and he was one of the best.

You'd never know it by looking at his work, or watching him work, but Don was handicapped.

Being a newspaper photographer is one of the toughest jobs in the business.  You lug gear.  You change lenses on the fly.  You shoot in some very challenging situations.  Bad weather.  Crime scenes.  Mob scenes.  People who don't want their picture taken.  It's a very long list.

Don performed his job with class and dignity, and he was a very nice man.  Your morning newspaper was better because Don Carey's work was in it.

My sympathy to his family and friends.

Monday, June 17, 2019

21

Today is my 21st anniversary at WNEP.

I've been lucky and blessed.

It's still fun. 

There is still gas left in the tank.

There are major challenges ahead.

Thank you for watching, and reading.

I wanted to close by saying "see you tomorrow," but I have the day off.


Sunday, June 16, 2019

Andy's Angles: Jonah

I haven't done a kitty picture in a while.  This is Jonah, one of Nathan and Peanut's friends.

I wanted to sit there.  Jonah wasn't giving up the chair.  He always wins.  I sat somewhere else.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Andy's Angles: Dawn

Ballparks are nice, even when they're empty and locked up.

This is a recent dawn at the ballpark known as Lackawanna County Stadium in Moosic.

No, I wasn't trespassing.  I stuck my arm through the gate!

Friday, June 14, 2019

Atty. Pete

Attorney Peter Loftus of Waverly died this week.  79.  It was an outstanding resume, including the FBI and a distinguished law practice.

I wish I could tell you "the rest of the story," but Atty. Loftus represented WARM and I during a witch hunt many years ago.  It involved the alleged violation of a court gag order and who said what to whom.

Part of the caper that morning involved a horribly drawn up subpoena, and someone you know rather well hiding out in a restaurant in case the gang that couldn't shoot straight eventually got the subpoena right.

Yes, there was also the threat of someone you know well going to jail if the dominoes tumbled in the other direction.

In spite of all that, Atty. Loftus was clear, calm, and confident.  I was happy he was on my side.

My sympathy to his family, friends, and fortunate clients.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Takin' Care of Business

Some sports items, but sports really is big business...

I cried when the Phillies' Andrew McCutcheon ripped up his knee and was lost for the season.  Different teams.  Same story.  The guy consistently produces without the "it's all about me" attitude.

The NY Post reports the Yankees' YES Network is branching out in to audio, and might be partnering with Amazon to host some of the product.  The story didn't say anything about radio.  He's had a long and distinguished career, but it's time for John Sterling to retire.

Shifting gears...

There is a massage business (legitimate) not far from my house.  A friend is a regular and she has wonderful things to say about the place.  It's one of those salons that also preaches health, wellness, etc.  It's odd that any time I drive by, one of the employees is sitting on the front stoop, having a smoke.

WalMart is redesigning its employee smocks and is relaxing its dress code.  Happy employees are productive employees.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

One More

I'm like an old dog with a bone on this graduation thing.  I can't let it go.  One more photo and story before I move on.

Once upon a time, there was a school on this lot.  It was half high school, half elementary school, and all fire trap.  We split our time between the school that used to be here and the one you see on the right.

Then, the state condemned the old school in 1976.  It was just too dangerous.  The old school was torn down years later, and unfortunately, I was occupied by other things at the time.  I would have loved to watch the demolition.

The property was sold to a church.  The church established a beautiful park here.  The trees and shrubs have grown nicely, and it's an asset to this part of town.  My personal preference would have been to plow salt in to the earth so nothing grows there, ever again.

On the other hand, it is wonderful to see something so nice on a piece of land that could have witnessed the death of dozens.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

3 Years

This is where I spent the last three years of my public school education-- a prison like brick box of nasty smells and busted dreams.    Okay, I stole part of that line from "The Drew Carey Show."

It was a poorly maintained building that outlived its usefulness long before I wandered the halls.  Twice during my time, a water pipe burst, flooding the bottom rooms and buckling the gym floor.  After repairs, the state forced the district to move the basketball games elsewhere because there wasn't enough room beyond the baseline.  If you ran hard after making a basket, you were slamming in to a wall.

Sadly, the people in charge of the district thought it was just fine.

The building is now home to senior citizens' apartments.  I'm glad something useful happened to it.

I was never sure if my graduation was a commencement or a parole.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Memories

I noted Saturday that it was the 40th anniversary of my high school graduation.

As I recall, it wasn't a happy time.  I didn't feel that I learned anything and I was terrified of bombing out at college.  I blame myself for the "not learning anything" part.  I didn't challenge myself enough.  No one at the school really cared enough to say "You shouldn't be here.  You should be taking another set of classes."  I do recall one teacher who told me he felt I should be on another track.  That was it.  It turns out I did OK in college.  That first semester was tough, and I had to work long and hard to get the hang of things, but I made it.  I knew more than I thought I did.

Back to graduation night, a Lackawanna County judge was the guest speaker.  Face it.  No one listens to those things.  Everyone is just looking at their watches (or phones).  The minutes passed like hours.  There has to be a better way.  Finally, it was over.

I do remember several of my classmates crying tears of sadness, not joy.  I couldn't understand it.  The shackles were off.  Freedom!  Celebrate!

I walked home to unwind.  It really wasn't that far.  I blew off a few opportunities to go out.  Instead, the Yankees were in Kansas City and I stayed home to watch the game.


The summer was spent pivoting toward college and transitioning away from high school.  It's funny.  I had a best friend in high school.  We all did.  We hung out every day for five years-- before school, during school, after school.  In those 40 years, I've seen him all of  three times.

I have been in touch with a few people from back in the day, but you have to realize that when we walked out the door of that school, we lost the just about only thing we had in common.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

About the Cover: Classic Harrisburg

Yes, it is an old photo on the cover this month.

Same old story-- lousy weather when I had free camera time, so I pulled this one out of the archives.

It was taken in January of 1995-- the day Tom Ridge became Pennsylvania's governor.  Ridge was the first to take the oath of office on the Commonwealth Avenue side of the building-- at the new annex.

I was also there for the first Casey inauguration, on the old side of the building.  I have to level with  you.  I thought the look was better on the old side, but the new side seemed to accommodate more guests.

Maybe we'll get better weather this month, and there will be a new header here for July.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Andy's Angles: 40

Today is the 40th anniversary of my high school graduation.

I remember it was a hot, humid, and stormy evening.  The ceremony was in an elementary school in Throop because it was the only school in the district with an auditorium big enough to hold the ceremony, and it was the only building in the district that wasn't in imminent danger of burning down or falling down.

I'll have more to say about that time in the days to come.

Yes, that's me above, in senior year typing class, one of the three most valuable classes in that horrible place.  We used IBM Selectrics, the ones with the ball rather than keys,  in a district that wasn't known for spending on things that students actually need and use.

That's Vinnie Kovak behind me, great kid and I occasionally wonder whatever happened to him.
That's me in the same classroom.  Got to love that hair cut.  There were no uniforms back then.  Jeans.  Flannel shirts.

Notice those state of the art window shades.  State of the art if it was during the Spanish American War.

Also notice the plywood covering one of the windows.  For some reason, one cold morning, my friend Tommy decided it would be a good idea to pick at the flimsy and brittle caulk that was keeping the window from crashing three stories to the sidewalk below.  Tommy accidentally broke the glass.  Thankfully, our typing teacher was a gentle soul and didn't freak out.

This was the sorry excuse for the repair-- a piece of wood rather than a good piece of glass.  I think it remained that way until the building was turned into apartments for senior citizens.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Sweet

What happened to ketchup?

A furor recently erupted when a Pittsburgh area amusement park switched to Hunt's over home town Heinz.

The PBS show, "America's Test Kitchen" did a taste test and preferred Hunt's.  The hosts usually say people choose the brand they grew up with.  In my case, it's Heinz.

But, something changed.  I recently cracked open a brand new bottle.  There is a new controversy over using sugar versus corn syrup.  I really don't care.  Here is what bugged me.  I found it to be way too sweet.  Horribly so.  Yuk!

I don't use that much ketchup, so I'm stuck with this bottle for a while, and I'm in no mood to start sampling a bunch of different brands to find one that actually puts the tomatoes and spices ahead of the sugar.

Heinz, you really messed with something good.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

D Day

Today is the 75th anniversary of the Normandy Invasion, otherwise known as D Day.

I always had the ultimate respect for those there that day.  How would you like to be told that you were heading out on a mission, and there was a good chance you weren't coming back?

I've often wondered why the D Day anniversary isn't a bigger deal in the USA.  It's probably because it didn't happen on American soil.  I suspect this year will be the exception because it's the 75th anniversary.

I've also often wondered why more things aren't named after Dwight D. Eisenhower.  War hero.  Immensely popular president.

Most of the people involved with D Day have passed.  A few are still around to tell their stories, and I'll be listening to as many as I can.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

What Were They Thinking?

I work at a television station.  TV's are everywhere.  They are unavoidable.  Several are tuned to Antenna TV, carried on WNEP2.

Sunday morning at 12:30, it's the "Paul Lynde Show" followed by "Lotsa Luck."

Someone thought it was a good idea to cast Lynde as a lawyer, with a family that includes his live-in son in law.

Dom DeLuise is in "Lotsa Luck.  He runs a public bus company lost and found department.  His live in family includes a dead beat brother in law.

Both series starred two of the most outrageously funny men to ever walk the planet, and both series were dreadful.  Lynde lasted for 26 episodes in 1972 and 73.  DeLuise managed to get 22 episodes out of "Lotsa Luck" the following season.

You just wonder about the thought process that produced those two series.  I'm sure they seemed like good ideas at the time, with two established stars.

Even though they were bombs, it is fun to look back.  Each series had their moments.

Like just about everything in life, sometimes, it just doesn't work out.